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We arrived in Barcelona three days ahead of sailing and stayed at the beautiful boutique hotel, the Royal Ramblas. It’s located in the heart of the city on the Las Ramblas. It was perfect in every way. On embarkation day, we checked out of our hotel at noon, grabbed a taxi at the door, and 15 minutes later were at the docks. Embarkation could not have been any quicker or smoother and by 12:45 we were sitting in the Oceanview cafe having a great lunch. As soon as we finished eating we headed to our room (#8251, which we have stayed in previously in 2012) and started unpacking our carry on luggage and the rest of our luggage arrived within an hour. Clive, our room steward, was very polite and friendly, always inquiring about our needs. The ports of call on this cruise were wonderful, something I will review separately. We ate twice in one of their speciality restaurants, the Tuscan Grill. Personally, I think that this restaurant is one of the best anywhere. Both food and service are excellent, let alone the views at night are worth the extra $’s. We always choose ‘Select Dining’ and ate most nights in the main dining room. There was something different this time in the dining room and a month later, I still can’t put my finger on it. The food was ‘good’, certainly not as good as in the past, but the service was always impeccable! All the public facilities that we used were immaculate. The first week we spent so much time off the ship and were really too tired to enjoy anything but Café al Bacio in the evening, sitting listening to some really great music. We went to a few shows during the 2nd week, an English ventriloquist who was on ‘England’s Got Talent’, as well as American comedian, Rondell Sheridan , both were hilarious… The Equinox Production staff did an amazing job of their European style circus production. We totally lucked on with the weather, nothing that Celebrity can be responsible for, with two perfect weeks of weather. Just being able to have breakfast outside on the Oceanview Deck in October was worth the trip. This being our fourth cruise with Celebrity, I do have a few issues (or quirks) with Celebrity itself. First, I really do find that the dress code is becoming a little too relaxed in the dining room. This isn’t the ‘Norwegian’ or ‘Carnival’ cruise lines and they do offer other alternatives, for those who don’t want to dress for dinner. I was really shocked to see someone wearing jeans in the ‘Tuscan Grill’. I also felt in some way, that this time we were really being ‘nickled and dimed’. Not really being drinkers, we usually like to have a bottle of sparkling water with dinner. We both had the ‘Classic Beverage’ package, which you can have beer, wine, and alcohol. Can you imagine, Pellegrino (sparking water) is not covered and we had to pay for a bottle each night, even after I explained that it was financially beneficial to Celebrity to have us drinking water over wine… they wanted us to upgrade our drink package for $10/pp/pd … when the bottle at night was only $5.18! Also, only being told the night before that we were to arrive in Marseille that there will be 6 other cruise ships arriving the next morning and that for those who had not booked a ‘Shore Excursion’, getting into town could prove to be a problem, unless we went with their $25/pp ‘scenic boat cruise’ transfer to Marseille. Overall it was a cruise of a lifetime, with great staff, amazing weather, surrounded with wonderful fellow cruisers this time around! And that my friend… is priceless!  

Perfect Itinerary on a beautiful ship

Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by SamIAmMontreal

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2014
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Veranda
We arrived in Barcelona three days ahead of sailing and stayed at the beautiful boutique hotel, the Royal Ramblas. It’s located in the heart of the city on the Las Ramblas. It was perfect in every way. On embarkation day, we checked out of our hotel at noon, grabbed a taxi at the door, and 15 minutes later were at the docks. Embarkation could not have been any quicker or smoother and by 12:45 we were sitting in the Oceanview cafe having a great lunch. As soon as we finished eating we headed to our room (#8251, which we have stayed in previously in 2012) and started unpacking our carry on luggage and the rest of our luggage arrived within an hour. Clive, our room steward, was very polite and friendly, always inquiring about our needs.
The ports of call on this cruise were wonderful, something I will review separately.
We ate twice in one of their speciality restaurants, the Tuscan Grill. Personally, I think that this restaurant is one of the best anywhere. Both food and service are excellent, let alone the views at night are worth the extra $’s. We always choose ‘Select Dining’ and ate most nights in the main dining room. There was something different this time in the dining room and a month later, I still can’t put my finger on it. The food was ‘good’, certainly not as good as in the past, but the service was always impeccable! All the public facilities that we used were immaculate.
The first week we spent so much time off the ship and were really too tired to enjoy anything but Café al Bacio in the evening, sitting listening to some really great music. We went to a few shows during the 2nd week, an English ventriloquist who was on ‘England’s Got Talent’, as well as American comedian, Rondell Sheridan , both were hilarious… The Equinox Production staff did an amazing job of their European style circus production.
We totally lucked on with the weather, nothing that Celebrity can be responsible for, with two perfect weeks of weather. Just being able to have breakfast outside on the Oceanview Deck in October was worth the trip.
This being our fourth cruise with Celebrity, I do have a few issues (or quirks) with Celebrity itself. First, I really do find that the dress code is becoming a little too relaxed in the dining room. This isn’t the ‘Norwegian’ or ‘Carnival’ cruise lines and they do offer other alternatives, for those who don’t want to dress for dinner. I was really shocked to see someone wearing jeans in the ‘Tuscan Grill’. I also felt in some way, that this time we were really being ‘nickled and dimed’. Not really being drinkers, we usually like to have a bottle of sparkling water with dinner. We both had the ‘Classic Beverage’ package, which you can have beer, wine, and alcohol. Can you imagine, Pellegrino (sparking water) is not covered and we had to pay for a bottle each night, even after I explained that it was financially beneficial to Celebrity to have us drinking water over wine… they wanted us to upgrade our drink package for $10/pp/pd … when the bottle at night was only $5.18! Also, only being told the night before that we were to arrive in Marseille that there will be 6 other cruise ships arriving the next morning and that for those who had not booked a ‘Shore Excursion’, getting into town could prove to be a problem, unless we went with their $25/pp ‘scenic boat cruise’ transfer to Marseille.
Overall it was a cruise of a lifetime, with great staff, amazing weather, surrounded with wonderful fellow cruisers this time around! And that my friend… is priceless!
 
SamIAmMontreal’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Veranda
Cabin 1A 8251
What can I say, we loved this room so much the first time in 2012, that we booked it again. Really mid-ship, in both directions! Just a few cabins from the central glass elevators, but at night electronic glass doors would close and we never heard a sound from another cabin or the hallway.
Panorama Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Florence & Pisa Tour
    This was remarkable. Through Cruise Critic’s Roll Call we advised that we had booked private tour of Pisa and Florence online through Joe Banana Italy Tour Sharing and had room for an additional six people. Soon the tour was full. We were met at the gangplank by Giovani, our driver, who had a very nice mini bus. Having spent some time working in the states Giovani spook perfect English, yet his knowledge of the area was impeccable. These private tours are half the price of what the shore excursions cost and the small mini vans can go places the big buses just can’t. Giovani, was very courteous and professional, but we also had a lot of laughs along the way. I can’t say enough good things about this company and it’s professionalism.First he took us to Pisa. OK, so we were in Pisa for an hour and as a girlfriend put it… that was 55 minutes too long. One of the couples actually climbed the leaning tower, while the rest of us walked around the site, but they charged for everything, even to visit the cemetery!Then it was on to Florence… wow! We first parked up on a hilltop overlooking beautiful Florence. We could see the Santa Croce, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and so much more. From there, Giovani took us to the Santa Croce and gave us an hour to explore. Then it was on to the Duomo, where we had another few hours to explore (the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the leather market, ect.), before we met up to go the Accademia to see Michael Angelo’s ‘David’! This is one town that I would definitely revisit in the future. From there, very unexpectedly, on our way back to the ship, Giovani offered to drive us through the Chianti Region and took us to one of the winery’s, which also produced olive oil. It was another great stop to top off this remarkable 8 hour day!
    View All 231 Florence & Pisa Tour Reviews
  • Kotor
    What a true jewel this port of call was.... We were tendered in, but it was only about a 5 minute ride. Described as "The Old Town of Kotor lies in the shadows of the fearsome St. John’s Hill and the walls protecting this town are a fortification masterpiece at up to 15 meters wide and 20 meters high each. These walls are skillfully crafted into the natural steep slopes of the hill and the view of this town on approach is one of the amazing sights, not only of the Mediterranean, but of the world. A person’s first look at Kotor, whether from the sea or from the road, always leaves a strong impression. Kotor is unique for several reasons. It is located on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world and in a bay that has made the list of Most Beautiful Bays in the World. But visiting Kotor is about more than beautiful views—it’s also about experiencing the cultural heritage of Boka Kotorska Bay."Old Town, the climb up the mountain side ( 3 euros and worth every penny, but make sure you have plenty of water) with spectacular views. After we had lunch at one of the outdoor cafe's and then walked around the beautiful shops. I think we were taken with the beauty, originality, and quality of the items in many of the little shops. It was a wonderful day. Unfortunately, I slept in as we arrived in Kotor, but departing at sun down and cruising back out 17 miles to the Adriatic Sea was a magical and very romantic moment.
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  • Marseille
    OK, so even with the fact that I was educated in French, I hated Marseille! Oldest French city or not, it's an old industrial and very unfriendly town! But it does have Gare St. Charles, which is the train/bus station that can take you to other locations... in our case Aix En Provence. Simply beautiful. After finding out that six other cruise ships would be docking in the morning, we hastily booked the 'scenic boat transfer' to Marseille for $25/pp. This left us with a 45 minute walk to the train station! From there we took a bus for about 7 euro return to Aix En Provence. We were 3 couples who met through Roll Call and had a lot of fun visiting and have a quaint little lunch outside in one of the squares. They have lots of interesting places to visit and lots of little shops. Unfortunately, we had to make our way back to Marseille, where not one taxi would take us back to our drop off for the shuttle boat!
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  • Private Tour
    The Amalfie Coast – Sorrento, Positano, and Pompeii!This time it truly was a private tour… Giovanni, our guide and driver, picked up my husband in a new Mercedes and took us out for a spectacular day that I will never forget. Fellow travellers, I want you to understand, if you can afford to take the shore excursion offered by the ship, then you can pay for a ‘private tour’, as in our case it was even a little cheaper when compared to what the ship was offering!As Giovanni, grew up and lives in the region, he knew that all the shore excursions would be heading directly to Pompeii in the morning. So he took us to Sorrento, which was beautiful and peaceful on a Sunday morning at 9:00 am. He stopped frequently along the coastline and took many pictures of my husband and I, with breathtaking beauty in the background. During the ride he found out what we were interested in and suggested places that we might want to see. By the way, this coastline is not for the faint of heart! It makes Route #1 along the pacific coast in California look like a drive in the park!Once in Positano, he gave us time to go down to the beach and walk along the shore. It’s about a 20 minute walk down, but over 45 to come up. In the meantime, he had made lunch reservations for us and an exquisite Italian restaurant, Trattoria La Tagliata, located at the very top of Positano. Not only were the views breathtaking, but this was definitely one of the best meals I have ever had. They grow everything themselves in gardens around the restaurant and the 5 course meal was a totally unforgettable experience. At this point I seriously contemplated not going back to the ship, surrounded by so much beauty! After lunch we headed towards Pompeii. I don’t know if it was because we had just left one of the most incredibly beautiful spots in the world or that we ate too much, but neither my husband nor I really enjoyed Pompeii. First, they charged us 11 euro each to get in, but then didn’t have any maps. We rented their audio tape, but it didn’t really make much sense for what we were seeing. Although we have a deep appreciation for the history of the site and it was a highlight for so many other fellow passengers, after two hours we decided that we had had enough.Giovanni got us safely back to the ship on time and when we said goodbye, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend.
    View All 82 Private Tour Reviews
  • Private Tour
    Rome – with a private tour of the Vatican! You definitely can’t see it in a day… but I think we did. Again we used the services of Joe Banana Limos and were met at the gangplank by our driver, Leonardo at 7:30 am. Our group of 8 climbed into his immaculate mini van and off we went. Personally, I think Leonardo could easily teach history at one of the Universities. My head is still reeling from what we learnt and saw that day.As in Florence, we first started up high on a hilltop overlooking the city of Rome and the Vatican. Also as in Florence, buses and many cars can’t access the roads that this tour company could, which made it remarkably easy to get us from one place to another. From there it was onto Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (which was under renovation), the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum and Colesseum, Circus Maximus, the Appia Antica, oh and so much more! All this by 1:30 pm! Our group wanted pizza and Leonardo took us to what many would consider ‘a hole in the wall’, but they served 26 types of pizza and I had the best pork Paninni of my life at Pizza V.I.P. The rest of the group ordered all types of pizza… and loved it!At 2:30 pm we met Alexandra, our guide for the private tour of the Vatican, just outside the Vatican Museum. This is where things went a little haywire. Although, this booking was not handled by Joe Banana directly, but another company, that person booked us in on the wrong dates. The owner of this company, himself showed up, and although it was an hour later, we did finally make it into the Vatican. I must say that all the tour directors stepped up to the plate on this one and we were very well compensated for the problem that arose. Yes, we did get into the Vatican, but truth be told, as we did need to get back to the ship, we went through at lightning speed. Thank god Alexandra knew a lot of the guards and security inside, as this helped us get through some of the longer lines. Alexandra loved the Vatican or as she put it the original ‘recyclers’! Her enthusiasm was contagious. Although we made it through, by the time we got to St. Peter’s Basilica they were preparing for a televised Beatification for the next morning and many things were off limits. Oh well… just means we need to go back one day! It was back to meet Leonardo and our trip back to the ship where we were safely back on board by 6:30 pm.
    View All 134 Private Tour Reviews
  • Venice
    Venice… what made Venice unique for us on this voyage, is that we were the last of the big cruise ships to able to dock at the port so close. As Venice was an overnight stop we chose to do it on our own and with no regrets, as part of the fun of Venice is getting lost… Upon arrival we took the ‘People Mover’ (yes, that’s the actual name) from the cruise port to Piazzale Roma. From there, we grabbed a couple of 24 hour, multiple trip tickets, for the Vaporetti. We took the #2, which took us into Piazza San Marco. We visited Saint-Mark’s Square and Basilica. For the first time, we also spent quite a bit of time window shopping and just enjoying making our way over to the Rialto Bridge. At the bridge we sat and enjoyed a nice glass of wine and just ‘people watched’. It was fun crossing all the foot bridges and watching the people in the gondolas. Late that night, once we couldn’t walk anymore, we got on Vaporetti #1, which took us down the Grand Canal all lit up at night and back to Pizzale Roma.In the morning, up bright and early, it was back into San Marco, this time to Doge’s Palace. This is a not to be missed tour. I spent the rest of the morning walking around, making my way to the Accademia Bridge, but at one point I ran out of time to accomplish everything I wanted to see…
    View All 1,422 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Villefranche
    The Cote D’Azur. How beautiful. We spent over eight hour touring and our guide, Françoise, did an amazing job that day. We started out in Villefranche, were we tendered in. The bus took us first to Nice, down the Promenades des Anglais along the coastline. We got off and walked some of the very narrow streets, visiting various sites, including their so called famous ‘flower market’. My husband and I left the group to go wander down by the water to take some pictures.From there we headed to the medieval town of Eze… something not to be missed. This town which is located about 1,200 feet above sea level is spectacular. A number of the old homes our now small galleries with a lot of art works. The views from the top are stunning. The tour arranged for a four course lunch at Pinocchio’s outside on the terrace. For a group as large as we were it was very good. We then travelled along the middle Corniche Road to Monaco. We stopped at the Cathedral where Princess Grace was both married and buried, over to the palace to see the changing of the guard, a visit to the gardens along the coast. Again, the sites and views were just beautiful. At one point we could see Italy from where we were standing.Finally it was onto Monte Carlo, as we travelled past all the beautiful yachts in the harbour, on part of the Formula One racetrack and up to the Casino. Go into the Casino and just look at the great hall. They don’t charge, but don’t allow you to take in bags or cameras.All in all it was a perfect day with beautiful blue skies and warm weather.
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